“And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
It is surprising to learn that God’s most oft-repeated command in the Bible is not to love or to believe, but to not be afraid.
Fear is a strong and basic impulse within mankind; it often serves us well, and can keep us from getting ourselves into too much trouble.
Nevertheless, fear is often used to manipulate. Politicians attempt to instill fear in order to win votes. Marketers use it to get you to buy their products. Many fan the flames of fear to promote hatred. The greatest atrocities of mankind are often perpetuated as a response to fear.
Fear is often the opposite of sober-mindedness (1 Peter 4:7). We must take God’s command to not fear seriously. What would we fear? Persecution? Torture? Death? While none of these things are pleasant, they pale in comparison to being cast into the trash pit of perpetual fire!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in considering this verse, said, “Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men.” Whenever we become afraid of men and what men can do, we show that we do not really trust in God, and do not reverence and respect Him as we ought. When we trust in God, respecting and revering Him, we know that no matter how terrible it may seem, men can do nothing to separate us from the love and peace of God.
In the end, what else are we really seeking? Why, then, do we fear?
Ethan R. Longhenry